Seven Seas Mariner: Top lawyer, 71, plunges to death from luxury cruise ship balcony after he went missing and 'wasn't himself'

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A top lawyer, 71, plunged to his death after falling off a balcony from the luxury Seven Seas Mariner cruise ship after he went missing and “wasn’t himself”

A top lawyer, 72, plunged to his death after falling from a balcony on a Mediterranean cruise ship. A court heard that Nigel Blythe-Tinker, former head of legal at gaming giant William Hill,  fell feet first from the cabin balcony into the sea after he went missing while on board the luxury cruise ship.

The incident occurred on the Seven Seas Mariner, the world’s first cruise liner to boast “all suite, all balcony” cabins, in July last year. The High Court heard that the alarm was raised when Blythe-Tinker failed to disembark the ship at Barcelona, though he was on board when it departed Marseilles the previous day.

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His family made “desperate attempts” to make contact with him, after which staff on the ship found his cabin empty with his “clothes folded neatly on the bed”. Following evidence from Blythe-Tinker’s daughters, judge Chief Master Karen Shuman declared that their father met his death after falling feet first into the sea from his cabin balcony in the early hours of July 22.

The cruise liner, which carries 700 passengers and 445 crew, was en route from Marseilles to Barcelona on July 21 last year when Blythe-Tinker began to display unusual behaviour and send messages in which he “wasn’t himself”. Blythe-Tinker had been renovating a house in England he had bought near to the home of his “close” cousin Andrew Gilling.

A top lawyer, 71, plunged to his death after falling off a balcony from the luxury Seven Seas Mariner cruise ship after he went missing and “wasn’t himself”. (Photo: Getty Images)A top lawyer, 71, plunged to his death after falling off a balcony from the luxury Seven Seas Mariner cruise ship after he went missing and “wasn’t himself”. (Photo: Getty Images)
A top lawyer, 71, plunged to his death after falling off a balcony from the luxury Seven Seas Mariner cruise ship after he went missing and “wasn’t himself”. (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

He had told Mr Gilling that he had been worried about having enough money to complete the project. He told his cousin he had had “a suicidal thought” and also seemed confused in messages with other family members, his daughter Sophie told the judge.

His family contacted staff on the ship and the onboard doctor was dispatched to check on the lawyer. However, when the ship docked in Barcelona on the morning of July 22 last year, Blythe-Tinker did not disembark and his cabin was empty.

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The ship’s CCTV revealed footage of an object – which appeared to be a person – falling from the vessel near to Blythe-Tinker’s cabin balcony and hitting the water. When he failed to turn up at Heathrow airport, where he had been due to fly after leaving the ship in Barcelona, his family made “desperate attempts” to find out where he was. They eventually learned from the cruise company that he had never disembarked at Barcelona.

The judge said Blythe-Tinker had been “an active 72-year-old” who “travelled extensively” but he “wasn’t himself” and had become “increasingly abnormal” during his time on the ship. She added: “I have viewed the video evidence. Something descends from the ship at 4.28am.

“I’m prepared to accept that that was a body and the direction is consistent with it coming from the suite Mr Blythe-Tinker was in. The ship was miles from any port or land at the time.” The judge concluded: “I’m satisfied on the evidence before me that Mr Blythe-Tinker died at 4.28 central European time by falling to his death from the ship that he was on.”

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